I really like Python. The more I work with the language the more I like it. It has a nice clean syntax and a very nice set of standard libraries. In particular it has a wide range of web libraries, from low-level sockets, to cgi processing, to a library for connecting to an IMAP server, it has it all. It even has three libraries for pulling content off the web, httplib, urllib and urllib2. If you know you are going to just be pulling information over http then you can use httplib, which acts as a web client. One of the omissions in httplib that I noticed was that it does not handle compressed content, nor does it cache results, nor does it use ETags to avoid retrieving files that haven't changed since the last time you requested them. I have worked with RSS news aggregators and seen the dramatic performance gains that these features provide. Thus I give you httpcache.py. It does all that, and a little bit more.

The little bit more is a little meta-data thing. That is, when I store the content from the URL in the cache, I also store all the headers that I received when I pulled that file. In addition httpcache.py provides a way to add and/or update the values of the headers stored in the cache. This gives a nice clean place to store meta-data for that content.

For Python, the book Python Essential Reference (2nd Edition) is my constant companion. If you already know another programming language then this is the only Python book you will need to get up and running. It contains a quick tutorial section, basic language reference, and then covers most of the libraries that come standard with Python. I empahasized most, because it doesn't cover any of the XML libraries, instead referring you to another book that just covers XML for Python.

14-May-2003 An updated version has been posted. This fixes the coversion of the md5 hash into a string by dropping the redundant '0x's. It also fixes gzip support and adds another unit test case.

21-Oct-2004 Httpcache.py now has it's own project page. Go there for downloads and the latest news.

ython Essential Reference (2nd Edition) is a really good reference, one of my office mates has has it and it is pretty thourough. I just got Python in a Nutshell

Posted by John Beimler on 2003-04-06

and its one of the best all around references I've read. Its also a bit smaller so it's easier to carry around. BTW - Joe - embedding HTML into text here seems to cut off the comments.

Posted by John Beimler on 2003-04-06

It does appear to be. I will look at the transformation code. You can see that the full text of you comment did get saved, it is just getting truncated on display: http://bitworking.org/news/76/1?xml

Posted by Joe on 2003-04-06

I was going to have to build a cache for a Python version of Stapler. At this rate I'll only have to glue the right parts together. Hmmm!

Posted by Mark Paschal on 2003-04-06

Cool. Glad my code could be of use.

Posted by Joe on 2003-04-07

Did you ever notice problems with fetching gzipped resources? I keep seeing this error: http://aspn.activestate.com/ASPN/Mail/Message/python-Tutor/1537279 when fetching a particular URL ( http://www.wigu.com/ ), because gzip.GzipFile tries to tell() the "file-like" object.

Posted by Mark Paschal on 2003-05-14

Mark, I have updated the code and posted the new version. Let me know if this fixes the problem.

Posted by Joe on 2003-05-23